What's Up with Sulfates?
One common misconception about shampoo is that if it has sulfates in it, it will be harsh. This generalization stems from the widespread use of harsh sulfates like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLeS) in shampoo—and formulas that are devoid of the nourishing, plant-based oils that help your hair look its best. The reality is that “sulfate” is a broad term describing a huge range of surfactants, some mild enough to use on a baby and some harsh enough to degrease a commercial deep fryer. So which sulfates are bad? And how do you select a shampoo bar that *really* works for you? This post will answer those questions and more.
What are Sulfates?
Sulfates are a type of ingredient called surfactants that bind water and oil together, which loosens dirt and grease from surfaces so they can be rinsed away. There are many surfactants out there, some safe for cosmetics and others meant for cleaning. Just like you wouldn’t use dish soap on your hair, it's important to use the right surfactant for the right purpose. SLS and SLeS have a reputation for being too harsh for hair, but there are also mild sulfates that work well without the harsh effects associated with SLS and SLeS. People usually want sulfate-free shampoos because they've heard they're better from their hairdressers or online. However, there's actually no scientific evidence proving that all sulfates are bad for your hair. There is, however, evidence that they are very effective at cleaning your hair and generate a luxurious fluffy lather.
How We Use Sulfates
We use a mild sulfate called sodium coco sulfate that's gentle enough even for baby shampoos. Not to be confused with harsh sulfates like SLS and SLeS, sodium coco sulfate is derived from coconut oil and effectively cleans hair with lots of lather but without drying or irritation. While we’ve found this active ingredient is the best at doing its job (cleaning your hair!) no formula is successful just because of one ingredient. As they say, “the dose makes the poison” and one ingredient alone cannot predict the success of the formula. We formulate our bars so that the cleansing agents are balanced by those that hydrate, nourish and protect hair, without stripping color or irritating your scalp. So once the mild cleansing sulfate washes away, your hair is left with plant-based oils like cocoa butter and coconut oil plus Provitamin B5, leaving your hair both clean and nourished.
How to Optimize Your Routine
Everyone’s hair and environment are completely unique, and their routine should be too. The best way to optimize your routine is to give it a try, and take note of how your hair feels after day 1, 2, and so on. If your hair tends to be oily, consider dispensing more per wash or washing twice in the shower. If its feeling a bit dry, consider using less shampoo per wash, going longer between washes, and adding or increasing the amount of conditioner you’re using. If you’re used to using a sulfate-free shampoo, after using our shampoo you may notice that you’re able to use less shampoo per wash and go longer between washes. Keep in mind that our products are effectively a concentrate, so a little does go a very long way. Sulfate or not, the best product is the one that works for you. So trust yourself and your experience using these products to decide what and how much to use.
We may be in the business of selling shampoo bars, but we want you to use less of our products, less often. Why? Because we’re also in the business of reducing environmental impact and making our customers' lives easier. And making a product so good you need less of it accomplishes both of those things.